Solon presses housing for poor

HOUSE leader is urging the newly-created Department of Housing and Urban Development to address the lack of land available for socialized housing units.

Negros Occidental Rep. Alfredo Benitez, chairman of the House Committee on Housing and Urban Development, said that the shortage of land for socialized housing, including relocation sites for informal settler families (ISF), is also among the problems that the DHUD must address.

Benitez has acknowledged the audit observations raised against the Socialized Housing Finance Corporation.

“The issue is availability of land for socialized housing.  This will be addressed by the department,” Benitez said.

The SHFC is a state-owned corporation primarily tasked to carry out social housing programs for low income families in the formal and informal sectors.

In the recently-released 2018 annual audit report for SHFC, COA chided the state-run firm for failing to complete the P725.37 million housing project for ISF’s living at waterways and danger zones in Metro Manila.

COA pointed out that there is a “slippage of 857 days or almost two and a half years” in construction of the High Density Housing Project in San Jose Del Monte City, Bulacan.

It said that the delay deprived the ISF beneficiaries of “affordable and decent housing, resulting in the non-attainment of the objectives of the Program, including the non-recovery of the Corporate Investment in housing projects.”

Delay due to anomaly

The current SHFC denied any responsibility as the new management appointed by President Rodrigo Duterte pointed out that they ordered the stoppage of work in the project after discovering “anomalous transactions” apparently blamed to the previous officials and the winning contractor.

“A High Density Housing Project (HDHP) amounting to P725.379 million was not completed within the period stipulated in the Building Construction and Site Development Agreement dated June 8, 2015,” COA said in its compliance audit of SHFC.

In 2015, the audit report revealed that the SHFC had purchased a 54,156.75 square meter lot in Barangay Gaya-gaya, San Jose del Monte City to relocate some 1,504 families living along QC tributaries identified as Dahlia Creek, Dario River, San Juan River, Tullahan River, Diliman Creek and Payatas Dumpsite.

Following the purchase of the lot that cost SHFC P127.59 million, the housing firm awarded the P545.32 million to a contractor that was tasked to start construction in 2015.

Despite the huge amount of money already poured into the project, COA said the project “was still very far from completion.”

“Site development such as road networks, drainage works, water layout and electricity lines were not yet stalled,” the audit agency added.